Joshua Keller and Nick Matzorkis met anonymously on The Tyra Banks Show in 2006, performing live together as "the world's first internet band." Their band, The ClipBandits, had become one of the early YouTube sensations. What made them unique was the fact that the members had never met in person and didn't know each others' names or even where other bandmates lived. Their story was featured on ABC World News, Good Morning America, and countless other media outlets, prompting Tyra Banks to invite members of the group onto her show to meet and perform together in person for the first time.
After their first in-person meeting, Matzorkis, a seasoned serial entrepreneur, and Keller, who at the time was in the process of forming his first company, immediately hit it off. They began exploring opportunities for working together, and eventually started up Global Agora, a seed capital venture fund and holding company. This led to their launching a group of companies that included Union Square Media digital advertising agency, and SUP ATX Paddle Boards. USM has since grown into an industry leader, with offices in New York, Boston, Miami, Austin, and Los Angeles. SUP ATX triggered the global stand up paddling phenomenon and remains the leader in that space. Global Agora is currently forecasting revenues of nearly $100 million in 2016. Not bad for a couple of former YouTube stars.
Here are 12 startup tips from Joshua and Nick--the first five are from Joshua, and the others are from Nick. You can also check out a video of their old group The ClipBandits (with a cameo appearance by Justin Timberlake) at the bottom of this page.
1. Keep it moving
Never expect things to stay the same or always be perfect. The worst thing you can do is sit around and sulk. You can't lose if you never give up.
2. Be a problem solver--never a complainer
The difference between success and failure is working through challenges and obstacles. There will always be ups and down but continuing to do the same thing and not solving the root of the issue is like running with a weight vest and shackles.
3. Automate and replicate
Whatever basic functions it takes to make your revenue stream, try to automate as much as you can. Try to take it out of individual hands to determine success or failure. While some functions and decisions require a human mind, others don't, so identify which is which.
4. Trust people who have earned it
Not everyone will do things exactly how you do it, but when people have earned your trust, you need to believe in them. Without an able support system of a trusted team, you will always be just another entrepreneur who is spinning too many plates and never take a step forward.
5. Build a business, not a revenue stream
While it's very impressive to build a steady revenue stream, you will never be worth much more than one to two times the net profit. When you build a business, you begin to expand and multiply to create value.
6. Find the right partners
You want loyalty, integrity, and honor. Complimentary skill sets are a must too, but without the previous three qualities, don't even bother getting started.
7. Make a commitment
Starting a company with a co-founder is a commitment like marriage--in sickness and in health. Expect to go through hell and back together. Know that you and your business partner(s) can take the heat.
8. Be ambitious
All business partners must share an exceedingly high level of ambition. Success mandates an equilibrium on this front, with everyone pushing the business--and one another--to excel.
9. Don't let accountants and attorneys dictate how to run your company
Consider their perspectives and proceed accordingly. If they were so good at building companies, they'd be doing it themselves.
10. Have a strong vision
Trust your instincts and don't second guess yourself until proven wrong. No one knows more about or will care more about your vision and your success than you and your partners. Don't let anyone steer you off track.
11. Love what you do and have fun, even during the tough times
There's no law that fun and work can't coexist. In fact, it's just the opposite. The more fun it is, the more successful you'll be. Choose the business you pursue wisely and accordingly.
12. Don't give up control of your business
If your company requires capital from a third party, only give up control if absolutely necessary to get the funding needed. If you do have to give up control, do it in a way that leaves you the opportunity to gain it back or you'll live to regret it.